Entries in infidelity (31)

Tuesday
Jul192016

Not In My Backyard: Daters Presume A Lot Of People, Except Their Own Partners, Cheat

Cheating on someone, or being cheated on (read more about infidelity here), represents one of the more traumatic events that can occur in any romantic relationship. Although the reported incidence rate of infidelity varies considerably by sample and relationship type, suffice it to say that affairs are not uncommon in marital and non-marital relationships. And people (in those relationships) suspect it’s common – when asked, people generally presume that people cheat frequently (hence the prevalence of tabloid magazine lists on ‘how to spot a cheater’). 

Yet, despite the apparent widespread presumption that staying true to another is no easy task, people likewise presume their own partners are highly unlikely to stray. A number of studies, mostly focused on married individuals, have documented a clear gap between the frequency of infidelity (i.e., people admitting they have cheated on their spouses) and individuals’ expectations that their partner has cheated. Basically, people believe others cheat, and even report doing it, but still don’t tend to think it has happened, or will happen, in their relationships. 

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Thursday
Jan282016

If At First You Don’t Succeed: A Strategy for Effectively Stealing a Romantic Partner

Sue and Dan are in a relationship. Their friend, Matt, is romantically interested in Sue. If Matt tries to “steal” Sue away from Dan, then he is doing what researchers call “mate poaching.” To try to poach Sue, Matt might do things like insult Dan, try to compete with Dan, tell Sue that she could do better, and/or try to keep Sue from hanging out with Dan. There is no shortage of examples on TV shows and movies of one person poaching their friend from an existing romantic relationship (e.g., Made of Honor). But outside of Hollywood, is mate poaching by friends common? 

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Thursday
Jan072016

We’re Exclusive In Our Relationship…Aren’t We? 

Public opinion surveys find that 70-80% of North Americans say that infidelity is “always wrong,” and most others express some disapproval.1,2 Researchers find that most married and dating partners expect romantic and sexual exclusivity.3,4 If you’re like a good number of people, you may think that you have in place an agreement to be exclusive. But, like many people, odds are that your understanding of this agreement is based far more on assumptions than actual explicit discussion.

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Tuesday
Dec082015

Infidelity and Jealousy from an Evolutionary Perspective

When you feel as if someone poses a threat to your relationship (whether they do or not), jealousy likely creeps in. Researchers note that jealousy is characterized by fear of loss, distrust, or anger, as one is worried about losing a relationship due to a rival.1 Essentially, jealousy serves as a mechanism by which the person remains hypervigilant to protect his/her relationship from potential intruders. One common scenario which can elicit jealousy is when your partner is in the presence of available and datable others, resulting in the sense that a partner may be unfaithful.

Infidelity

In a previous article, I discussed theories of infidelity, focusing on the different perspectives offered by evolutionary psychologists and social-role theorists. The dispute between these two perspectives focuses on the difference in how distressed is measured. One approach is to use “forced choice” alternatives, which include answer choices in which a participant is to pick which is more upsetting from two pre-selected responses: your partner forming an emotional attachment with another individual (emotional infidelity) or your partner having sex with this other individual (sexual infidelity). Evolutionary psychologists have used this forced-choice paradigm to show that men are more upset by sexual infidelity, while women are more distressed by emotional infidelity.

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Tuesday
Nov172015

“I Hope My Boyfriend Don’t Mind It”: The Implications of Same-Sex Infidelity in Heterosexual Relationships

Long before Katy Perry proclaimed that she kissed a girl and liked it, heterosexual-identified women were kissing other women. Although the phenomenon of female-female kissing isn’t particularly new, in the past decade scholars have turned their attention to better understanding the multitude of reasons why same-sex physical intimacy occurs between heterosexual individuals.

Generally when committed romantic partners kiss someone besides their partner, this is considered a form of cheating. Yet female-female kissing by heterosexual women does not seem to garner the same negative response, perhaps due to the varying reasons women report engaging in such behavior. Some heterosexual women report kissing other women as part of the college social scene or for men’s attention, while others do so to experiment or explore potential same-sex desires.1 A 2012 study found that both women and men perceive women who kiss other women in heterosexual spaces (for example, bars that heterosexual individuals frequent) as more promiscuous than those who kiss a man, and that women and men perceive such women as more likely to be heterosexual than bisexual or lesbian.2 In some ways, this last finding may suggest that women and men do not always perceive female-female kissing as necessarily an expression of women’s same-sex desire. So then what happens when individuals in heterosexual romantic relationships engage in more extreme forms of infidelity, such as sex, with someone of the same sex?

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Saturday
Oct032015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Samantha Leivers on Detecting Infidelity

Can men detect if a woman is a cheater? Robert Burriss talks to Samantha Leivers of the University of Western Australia about her new research on appearance and faithfulness.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Thursday
Oct012015

A “Double-Shot” of Cheating

The need to belong is a basic human drive; we as humans have a pervasive desire to form and maintain lasting, positive relationships.1 Relationships are important for our well-being, as their initiation is often associated with happiness, elation, love, and joy. Marital relationships serve as important buffers against stress;2 and marital quality is associated with better health.3 The benefits of being in a relationship, such as those just mentioned may explain why people are often very resistant to breaking social bonds and experience strong negative emotions when they feel as if their relationships may be compromised.

Cheating (or being cheated on) is one of the most detrimental behaviors for the survival of a relationship. Infidelity shakes the ground upon which the relationship was built, as it creates a violation of trust and breaks the commitment each partner made to one another. Not only does the act of cheating create tension and potentially destroy the relationship, but the perception that a partner may be cheating is also problematic. If there is suspicion of infidelity, that suspicion often creates a rift between couple members. Therefore, it is important to know how people view cheating and what behaviors people believe violate the terms of a committed relationship. 

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Wednesday
Jul082015

Best Relationship Song of Summer 2015 – Honey, I’m Good

Summer has only just begun, but I’m going ahead and calling it: The best relationship song of Summer 2015 is Andy Grammer’s Honey, I’m Good. Not only is this song ripe with catchy beats that make you want to clap your hands and sing along, but it’s an anthem for fidelity and commitment. 

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time talking about relationships, and an all too familiar topic is infidelity. A pet peeve of mine is when people defend their cheating by claiming that it “just happened.” I understand that if someone is under the influence (of alcohol, or perhaps stupidity), then they may not be able to fully comprehend the ramifications of their actions. But before reaching that level there is a point when we all know our behavior is leading towards trouble. This song debunks the idea that infidelity is an accident by reminding us of that moment when we should know better.  Just like the song trumpets, you “could have another but probably should not” and if you stay you “might not leave alone.” It is then that you have a choice to make.

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Thursday
Jul022015

Is It Better to be the Breadwinner? Implications for Infidelity

image source: nypost.com/2014/04/30/5-tips-for-female-breadwinners/

A study of 2,757 participants from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth examined how spouses’ relative earnings (i.e., who makes more money) influences likelihood of cheating. Results indicate absolute income did not predict infidelity, so simply earning more money did not make a person more likely to cheat. However, being the breadwinner (i.e., earning more than a spouse) was associated with men being more likely to cheat; the opposite was true for women-- they were less likely to cheat when they made more money than their husbands. Being economically dependent on a spouse (i.e., one spouse makes a lot more than the other) was associated with increased likelihood of cheating in both men and women, though the effect was stronger in men.

Munsch, C. L. (2015). Her support, his support: Money, masculinity, and marital infidelity. American Sociological Review, 80, 469-495. doi: 10.1177/0003122415579989

Tuesday
May192015

Cheating: It's a Family Affair

Why do people cheat? It’s a question we get (and address) here at ScienceOfRelationship.com regularly. Our coverage of the topic generally reflects the state of research on the topic, which focuses on proximal predictors of infidelity --- or science jargon for those things about individuals or relationships that directly increase the likelihood somebody will cheat, such as low commitment, more attractive alternatives, lack of impulse control, narcissism, and so on. But what if we dig further in a person’s history, perhaps even preceding her or his foray into the world of romantic and sexual relationships? Are there more distal signs or risk factors for whether somebody will one day cheat on a partner? It would appear so.

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Wednesday
Apr082015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Preventing Cheating with "Coalitional Mate Retention"

With a little help from my friends: Robert Burriss discusses two new experiments that examine how people use coalitional mate retention tactics to prevent their partners from cheating. Your friends can help to keep your partner faithful.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Friday
Jan302015

Everybody Else is Cheating, Right? Not Necessarily

Most people believe that infidelity is a very bad thing,1 yet a majority of people admit they have cheated on a romantic partner. In fact, studies have shown that about 75 percent of men and 68 percent of women have cheated at some point in a relationship.2,3

There are many reasons why people are unfaithful to their partners, but one possibility is that cheating may seem like a more acceptable behavior for us to engage in if we think it’s commonplace and widely accepted. If we think that our own cheating is less frequent or severe than the norm, we’ll be more likely to let ourselves slide and succumb to temptation. “Everyone else is doing it, so if I have one little dalliance that wouldn’t be so bad."

We often compare ourselves to others and compare ourselves to what we believe is typical behavior. According to social comparison theory, if we want to know where we stand on a particular behavior, we compare ourselves to our peers.4 So if you want to know if your faithfulness to your partner is typical, you can compare yourself to others.

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Monday
Jan052015

Stronger Impulses or Less Control? Why Men Succumb to Sexual Temptations

Research suggests that men tend to surrender to sexual temptations, like cheating, more than women. Is this because men have stronger sexual urges, or because they can’t control themselves? Across two studies, participants indicated the strength of their sexual impulses and their ability to control themselves when encountering “forbidden” others (e.g., being attracted to someone already in a relationship). Men acted on inappropriate attraction more than women, and this occurred because men had stronger sexual impulses, rather than men being less able to exert self-control. Men’s higher sex drive, therefore, might lend insight into why they engage in certain behaviors.

Tidwell, N. D., & Eastwick, P. W. (2013). Sex differences in succumbing to sexual temptations: A function of impulse or control? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1620-1633. doi: 10.1177/0146167213499614

Thursday
Dec182014

Moral Boundaries in Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 41

Consider the following (probably fictional) scenario, described in detail by pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman1 and paraphrased here: Jack and Jane are in a happy romantic relationship for 2 years. One day Jack receives an invitation from another woman living in his building to watch her masturbate in her apartment (with absolutely no physical contact and no emotional intimacy). Intrigued, he goes to her apartment to watch her masturbate, then returns to his room and goes to sleep. Jack believes this episode to be weird/strange, but not unethical. He innocently mentions it to Jane, who upon hearing this, becomes extremely upset and ends the relationship, cutting off all contact with Jack. 

What do you think about this situation? Did Jack do anything unethical? Is accepting an invitation to watch someone masturbate (while in a relationship with someone else) a moral violation?

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Monday
Sep292014

Keeping the Back Burner Warm with Technology

With the pervasiveness of social media and mobile devices comes the potential to communicate with hundreds or thousands of people with just a few taps or clicks. Of course, we are connected to lots of different types of people, including family, friends, coworkers, and random people you have a faint recollection of from high school who friended you on Facebook. We also have very different reasons for communicating with particular people in our social circles. New research1 suggests that one motivation for communicating on Facebook (and other social media sites) is to keep some of our connections on the “back burner” as potential future romantic partners. 

If you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, it makes sense that you may think of some people in your social network as romantic possibilities. However, do people who are currently in exclusive romantic relationships also keep potential mates on the back burner?

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Wednesday
Apr092014

How Your Relationships Shapes Who You Are For Better and/or Worse

You have likely heard someone in a relationship say something like “She makes me a better person.” Alternatively, you may have also heard people say things like (with apologies to Stone Temple Pilots) “I’m half the man (or woman) I used to be.” Though these statements convey feelings of overall relationship satisfaction in the former case, or dissatisfaction in the latter case, something else important is being communicated – that romantic partners are capable of modifying our sense of who we are as individuals (i.e., sense of self). 

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Wednesday
Mar262014

The Grass Is Greener on the Internet: Pornography, Alternatives, and Infidelity

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for that last 20 years, you likely know that the internet is full of pornography. But does exposure to porn hurt your relationships? Although there are conflicting results and plenty of questionable science on this topic (see here for an example), a new study suggests that watching porn may indeed impact certain aspects of relationship quality.1 Specifically, the researchers examined whether exposure to pornographic videos (i.e., the kind of thing you’re most likely to come across on the internet) increases people’s perception of relationship alternatives (read more about alternatives here), which negatively affects relationship quality. 

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Tuesday
Jan142014

The Biology of Cheating

In the movie Unfaithful, Diane Lane’s character seems to have it all: a nice house, kids, and a hunky husband to boot (played by Richard Gere). Yet, following a chance encounter with an attractive younger man, she finds herself being, well, unfaithful. Why would she risk all of the nice things in her life by cheating? There are several reasons why she would take such a risk. It could be something about her (her personality or self-esteem), something about her relationship (not satisfying or unfulfilling), or something about the situation (she just had the chance). However, infidelity or cheating could also result from, at least partially, underlying biological and hormonal influences.

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Monday
Jul292013

Wake Up! How Dreams Influence Relationships (Part 2)

Recently, I wrote that dreaming about close people in your life can reveal aspects of your personality (specifically, attachment style). Highly insecure folks often have terrible dreams about their partners, because they expect their partners to behave badly and those expectations surface in dream content. But do people’s dreams predict their behavior after waking up? I’ll cut to the chase—the answer is yes.

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Wednesday
Jun192013

When Three (or More) is NOT a Crowd

What do you know about polyamory? Can polyamory or open relationships really work?

This is a timely question, as there has been a surge of interest lately on this topic. In fact, according to a recent study, between 4-5% of Americans report being in a consensual, non-monogamous relationship—this is when both partners agree that they and/or their intimate partner(s) can have other sexual or romantic partners as well.1 Consensual non-monogamy describes many types of relationships, such as swinging (recreational sex with others) and polyamorous relationships, where the partners consent to each other having intimate, loving relationships with others (more intimate than just an “open” relationship). Researchers (including me) are starting to explore how theories we have about intimate relationships extend to our understanding of relationships that include more than two people. There is not a lot of work yet on non-monogamy, but we can look to a paper that Dr. Terri Conley and colleagues recently wrote challenging assumptions about the benefits of monogamy.2

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